University of Nottingham Ningbo China
Department of
Civil Engineering
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MSc equip

MSc Engineering Surveying and Geodesy


Course outline

The course is designed for students who wish to develop an understanding and working knowledge of the principles and applications of a variety of surveying devices and techniques.

Versions of this course have been running at The University of Nottingham in the UK for almost 20 years. This course runs entirely at The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC), providing students with the ability to appreciate and apply state-of-the-art engineering surveying techniques within a practical context. It includes the principles underpinning surveying, such as reference systems and geodesy, as well as the techniques and equipment used in engineering surveying, photogrammetry and satellite positioning systems such as GPS. UNNC is located in an excellent GNSS coverage area, from which both BeidouI+II/Compass and QZSS satellites can be observed.

In addition to the formal part of the course, we run practical classes that allow students to see and learn how to use and operate a very wide variety of state-of-the-art surveying equipment and software, including laser scanners, servo driven total stations, RTK and Network RTK GPS, digital and analogue photogrammetry, LiDAR, SAR and InSAR.

Students studying this course will be develop the ability to:

  • apply their skills directly within the surveying industry
  • react quickly to new technologies and innovations
  • communicate ideas effectively in written reports, verbally and through making presentations to groups
  • exercise original thought, as well as gain interpersonal, communication and professional skills 
  • plan and undertake an individual project

The course is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES).

Career options for this degree

This degree offers career opportunities in a variety of careers such as Engineering Surveying in Private and Government Sectors (e.g., Construction, Deformation Monitoring, Utility Departments and Companies), GNSS Software Engineering, GNSS Receiver Sales and Marketing, Digital Mapping, 3D Modelling, Smart City Development, Consultancy. 

All our graduates of the course found good relevant jobs within 6 months after graduation – 100% employment rate!! 

Course structure

The course consists of 120 credits of taught modules along with a 60 credit major individual research-based project undertaken over the summer term. It is also available as a postgraduate diploma which covers the same taught modules, but does not include the research project. Please be aware modules are subject to change.


Autumn Semester

Analytical Methods

The module introduces the fundamental mathematical and statistical techniques that are used in satellite positioning technology and associated activities. This involves the treatment of observational errors and the solution of overdetermined and mathematical models. The course includes:

  • basic statistical theory
  • hypothesis testing
  • the treatment of observational error
  • the theory of least squares and accuracy analysis
  • kalman filtering for the integration of sensors
Geodetic Reference Systems

This module describes various geodetic reference systems used in navigation and surveying. The module covers:

  • geographical, cartesian and astronomical (celestial) coordinates
  • definitions of geodetic, ellipsoidal datums
  • datum transformation methods
  • calculations in planar, spherical and ellipsoidal coordinate systems
  • principles and properties of map projections, emphasising the more common zenithal, conical and cyclindrical projections
  • recent developments and case studies
Fundamentals of Satellite Positioning

This module provides an introduction to positioning and navigation using satellites and includes:

  • history of positioning and navigation using satellites.
  • fundamentals of satellite orbits, signals and messages.
  • fundamentals of coordinate reference systems, quality measures and integrity
  • satellite positioning systems: GPS, Glonass and Galileo
  • augmentation systems: SBAS and GBAS
  • stand alone and differential positioning
  • static and kinematic positioning
Engineering Surveying

This module covers selected areas of engineering and industrial surveying and includes:

  • principles of surveying
  • operation of electronic distancers
  • EDM calibration parameters and methods
  • atmosphere refraction effects on observations and corrections
  • metrology and industrial measurement
  • mine and underground surveying
  • hydrographic and offshore surveying
  • computer aided design
  • recent developments
  • applications of engineering surveying


Spring Semester

Advanced Satellite Positioning

This module covers the theoretical and operational aspects of satellite positioning techniques and includes:

  • stand-alone and differential positioning techniques
  • high precision static and kinematic positioning techniques
  • systematic biases and errors: sources, effects and mitigation
  • principles of satellite orbit determination
  • observables and observation equations used in positioning
  • international services: IERS and IGS
  • detailed applications and case studies
  • current developments
Photogrammetry and Remote Measurement

The module describes the theoretical and practical aspects of photogrammetry and geometrical remote sensing. Subjects covered include:

  • single photograph geometry.
  • the geometry of a stereo pair of photographs.
  • selected instrumentation.
  • data capture techniques.
  • digital imagery and processing.
  • aerial triangulation.
  • geometrical rectification techniques.
  • selected remote sensing sensors.
  • recent developments.
Physical Geodesy

This module presents the concepts and principles of physical geodesy. The course covers:

  • gravity and the geoid
  • the rotation of the earth
  • Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) and Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI)
  • satellite altimetry and gradiometry
  • tidal variations in gravity and the physical deformations of the earth due to the tides
  • height systems
  • GPS & geodynamics
  • recent developments


Individual project

Once you have completed the modules, you will undertake a supervised research project over the summer term. Students receive dedicated supervision from staff members. This is a key component of the degree, affording students the opportunity to conduct independent research which may be related to their future employment. 

It provides the student with an opportunity to undertake a substantial personal project appropriate to their interests. It will normally take the form of scientific investigation whether it involves experimentation or an extensive review of work already completed by others. Typically (but not exclusively) it will include the following:

  • project definition and aim (choice of subject is at the discretion of the convenor)
  • literature review
  • practical experimentation/investigation
  • critical analysis of findings
  • presentation of results

Entry requirements

Applicants are usually required to have a 2.1 honours degree or above (or international equivalent) for the MSc, in a relevant discipline, for example science, engineering or mathematics. Other qualifications and/or extensive professional experience may also be accepted.

Applicants whose first language is not English or whose entry qualification was not obtained in the English medium are required to provide evidence of their proficiency in English. English language requirements are:


  • IELTS 6.0 with no less than 5.0 in any element or
  • PTE Academic 55 (minimum 51)

For further details, please contact the Admissions Office.

Alumni Stories


Previous MSc project topics

  • Deformation monitoring of the Forth Road Bridge using GPS
  • Beidou and QZSS Performance and Multipath Effect in Precision Agriculture
  • Laser scanning and photogrammetry for forest and woodland surveys
  • Testing of a new small format integrated sensor airborne mapping system

How to apply

Scholarships and fees


Course Director:

Dr Lawrence Lau


Admission Office:

Tel: +86 (0)574 8822 0257
Fax: +86 (0)574 8822 2483




Quick Links:

Module Catalogue

Programme Specifications